Thursday, January 27, 2005

Some basketball and some politics

It's hard to believe, but the Vanderbilt Commodores (11-8, 2-4 SEC) are now dangerously close to falling below the .500 mark for the first time since my sophomore year. What happened, guys?

Earlier this year, we were marked by all the savvy sportswriters as a sleeper team out of the SEC. But lately, we've been playing not very well at all. Will we even make it to the NIT?

Let's go, Dores: the Return begins this Saturday against Ole Miss. At least it had better. If we lose to the Hotty Toddy?

Well, let's just say attendance will go down in Memorial Gym.

Colorado professor: 9/11 victims not innocent

I was reading The Hotline's "Wake-Up Call" today, when I came across this little tidbit from The Rocky Mountain News entitled "CU prof's esssay sparks dispute."

Talk about stupid stuff. But, you know, it sounds like the kind of things that professors at Vanderbilt would be willing to say.

The argument goes something like this: Americans are allowing [insert laundry list of the current liberal causes celebres] and therefore, all 3,500 people who died on September 11, 2001 deserved their sudden and firey deaths.

To me, that logic is flawed. It's the logic that says, "Blame America first." It's a form of self-loathing that those in academia seem to enjoy.

Another instance of the Left's self-loathing: Biblical interpretation

I am currently enrolled in a religious studies class that is called "Global Interpretations of Christian Scripture." Now don't get me wrong, I am well aware (after almost four years) of the Vanderbilt Divinity School's reputation as one of the best liberal seminaries.

But that doesn't mean that it doesn't grate on my nerves when I have to sit through the drivel.

We were having a discussion last week about 1 Timothy 2. Here's what God's Word says:

1I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–2for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time. 7And for
this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle–I am telling the truth, I am not lying–and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.

8I want men everywhere to lift up holy hands in prayer, without anger or disputing.

9I also want women to dress modestly, with decency and propriety, not with braided hair or gold or pearls or expensive clothes, 10but with good deeds, appropriate for women who profess to worship God.

11A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. 12I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent. 13For Adam was formed first, then Eve. 14And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner. 15But she will be restored through childbearing–if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.

Now, as you can see, this is a difficult portion of Scripture to understand if one is not familiar with the Bible (as most of the people in this class, regardless of the fact that they may be in seminary, seem to be).

Quickly, before I continue ranting, I'll run through my interpretation of this portion of Scripture.

First, verses 1-3 are Paul's instructions on for whom we should pray. This was especially important for many of the congregations that Paul ministered to: many of his churches were begun in the synagogues of the Greek and Graeco-Roman cities that he visited during his missionary journeys. These congregations would have been steeped in Law, which forbade contact with those who did not worship the LORD God and discouraged them from participating in the pagan, Gentile government.

Next, Paul briefly -- and profoundly -- proclaims the Gospel message in verses 4-6. Notice that Christ "wants" all men (here used in the gender-neutral "humanity" sense) to be saved and come to a knowledge of the Truth (since this is something Christ wants, it is logical to understand that this has not yet happened, thereby rejecting claims of universalism, that Christ's sacrifice saved everyone automatically -- Christ died for all, and offers eternal Life as a free gift, but because of free will, individuals must choose to accept to apply Christ's sacrifice to their own life).

Verse 7 is Paul reaffirming his divine mandate to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, and verse 8 is an exhortation of how Paul wants men to worship (note that the Left also tends to make fun of evangelical and other Christians who raise their hands in worship of God). Notice the beginning of the verse? It begins with "I want." Odd, isn't it? Paul doesn't use that construction anywhere else in this portion of Scripture, does he? Hmmm. Let's keep that in mind.

So now we come to the controversial part. Verses 9-10 seem, at first glance, to suggest that Paul wants women to come to church dressed in nothing but a very plain black robe. So much for the church ladies coming in with their Sunday hats!

Here's the deal: notice again the construction that Paul uses at the beginning of verse 9: it says "I also want." This is a very important distinction. When writing his epistles, Paul is very careful to write exactly what he means and mean exactly what he says. And as the heritage of the Christian tradition, Paul's writings are both Scripture and real letters to real people.

In his letters, Paul often sends greetings and personal instructions to Timothy and other leaders of the congregations he planted around the Mediterranean. These instructions are usually straight-forward and easily applicable to all Christians. But sometimes, too, Paul writes things that context shows to have been meant for the particular people to whom he is writing. This, of course, doesn't lessen the authority of Scripture or change the fact that ultimately the Bible "has God for its Author; salvation for its end; and Truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter."

Paul is saying that, in his ministry to the people that he is referring to in this letter to Timothy, he doesn't want women to wear the things he discusses. Read in the light of particular application instead of universal application, this portion of Scripture is easy to understand: many of the people in the churches Paul planted were doing their best to follow Christ, but their immaturity in the faith led them to make poor choices. They would flaunt their riches while other members of their congregations suffered or hungered.

Paul is telling Timothy that at least in Paul's ministry, he's found it best to keep a close rein on these excesses. But the obvious construction of the Scripture here shows that Paul does not mean for this admonition to be applied universally.

The same idea goes for verses 11-12. Paul wants women around him to behave in a certain way, but this is not necessarily true for all women. For example, Dorcas and Prisca (see Acts) are both very prominent women who seem to lead congregations in Luke's account of the Acts.

Finishing up my interpretative task: verses 13-14 explain how Eve fell first (of course, Adam was an idiot, too, even if he fell second: no one said he had to take the fruit from Eve). The seemingly explosive verse 15 is actually a prophecy of Christ: Eve helped to set up her own salvation through childbirth, because if she had not had children, eventually her daughter Mary would not have been able to have been the mother of Jesus.

So, here's my rant: we took this text and looked closely at it in my class, and half the men in the room proceeded to weep, wail, whine, and gnash teeth! They seemed to be apologizing for being male. It was ridiculous. One even said, "As a white, Protestant Male, I find that I must constantly make up for my identity by striving to acheive justice for women."

Now I'm in favor of justice for women (see my post on Rape and know that I think it's ridiculous that a woman is paid $0.75 for something a man gets a $1 for), but this was silly.

Silly, but not surprising.

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